Sarasota Fishing Charters

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Fishing in Sarasota

Heading out to fish in Sarasota's pristine waters. Courtesy of Grande Charter Fishing.

Sarasota, located on the Gulf Coast of Florida, is a fishing paradise that calls both seasoned anglers and novice fishermen. Sarasota’s abundant waterways and diverse ecosystem create a bountiful playground for anglers. Whether you're seeking the thrill of battling powerful game fish or looking for a relaxing day on the water, Sarasota delivers an array of options. From its intricate network of mangroves and estuaries to its expansive flats and nearshore reefs, the waters around Sarasota are packed with an impressive variety of game fish species. Snook, redfish, tarpon, sea trout, and a host of other fish await those who choose to wet their lines in Sarasota's abundant waters. With its favorable year-round climate and an abundance of knowledgeable fishing charters and guides, Sarasota promises unforgettable angling experiences for all who venture into its waters.

Sarasota Fish Species

Sarasota is one of the more popular destinations for fishing in Florida. The fish species here are numerous and diverse. Sarasota's most popular game fish include:


Snook are prized game fish known for their powerful fights and frequent jumps. They are found around inshore structures like mangroves, docks, and bridges — making them an accessible yet challenging catch.

Target snook with live bait like pilchards, pinfish, or shrimp. Artificial flies and lures like jerk baits or topwater plugs are also effective.

Casting lures near structures like mangroves, docks, and bridges is a popular technique. Anglers can use a variety of retrieve patterns, including steady retrieves, twitching actions, or pausing to entice strikes. Live bait fishing involves presenting the bait near the target areas and allowing the natural movement to attract snook.

8wt to 9wt fly rods and medium to heavy action spinning rods with strong monofilament or braided line are commonly used. Leader material with a test strength of 20-40 pounds is recommended to prevent line breakage.

If you are a fly angler, check out this recipe for an effective tapered leader for snook fishing, or get a crash course on fly fishing for snook here.


Redfish, also called red drum, are popular game fish known for their bronze-colored bodies with distinctive black spots near their tails. They provide a great challenge for seasoned anglers and newbies alike.

Redfish are often caught using live bait such as shrimp, pinfish, or mullet. Artificial lures like soft plastic baits or spoons can also be effective. Though using flies is an effective method when casting inshore. For more information on the best flies to use, click here.

Use medium to heavy action spinning or bait casting rods and reels with a strong monofilament or braided line. Opt for leader material in the 16 to 25 pound class to help prevent line breakage.

Cast lures near oyster bars, grass flats, and docks. Work soft plastic jerk baits or shrimp imitations using erratic twitches and movements to mimic injured, fleeing prey. When using live bait, present your bait near structures or areas where redfish are known to feed.

For more on how to target redfish around Sarasota, check out our Ultimate Guide to Florida Redfish.

A massive tarpon caught off of Sarasota's abundant waters. Courtesy of Grande Charter Fishing.


Tarpon are Florida's most iconic saltwater fish, renowned for their size, strength, and acrobatics. Tarpon, also known as the "Silver King," migrate along Florida's coast each season, and are commonly found in Sarasota's nearshore waters. Check out our recent article for more on effective techniques and tips for tarpon fishing in South Florida.

Fly fishing for tarpon is an exhilarating technique to catch these monster fish. Check with your guide on best practices to fish them successfully. For a deeper dive into effective flies to use when fly fishing for tarpon in Sarasota, click here.


Speckled sea trout are sought-after inshore game fish that inhabit Sarasota's local grass flats, channels, and deeper holes. They are known for their striking appearance, with dark spots scattered across their silver or dark green bodies. Sea trout provide exciting action on light tackle and are also prized as table fare.

Sea trout respond well to live bait such as shrimp or pinfish — especially when fishing beneath a popping cork. Artificial flies and lures like shrimp imitations or topwater lures can also be effective.

Light to medium spinning rods and reels with a monofilament or fluorocarbon line are commonly used. Choose a leader material between 10 and 20 pounds.

Cast lures over grass flats, channels, or deeper troughs and potholes. Experiment with a variety of retrieves — steady retrieves, twitches and pauses, etc. — to imitate the movement of baitfish or shrimp. When using live bait, cast the bait near areas where trout are likely to feed. If you are using a popping cork, occasionally give your cork a solid tug with your rod tip to mimic the sound and splashing of injured prey.


Sheepshead are distinctive-looking fish with black vertical barring and prominent human-like teeth. They are often found near structures like docks, bridges, and jetties. Sheepshead are known for feeding on barnacles, shellfish, and other crustaceans, and are prized as delicious table fare.

Use shrimp or crabs on small hooks and jig heads as your preferred sheepshead bait. Sheepshead have small mouths, so allow them to fully eat the bait before setting the hook.


Several species of grouper, such as red grouper and gag grouper, inhabit the offshore reefs and wrecks around Sarasota. These bottom-dwelling fish are highly sought after for their size, strength, and delicious meat. Grouper fishing offers a deep-sea adventure for anglers looking for larger game fish.

Fishing Seasons in Sarasota

Below is a table with fishing seasons for some top fish species around Sarasota. Be sure to check with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) for the most up-to-date rules and regulations.

Red GrouperYear-round.
Gag GrouperSeptember 1 through November 10th.
Snook March 1 through May 31 and from September 1 to December 31. All other times of year are catch-and-release.
Redfish Year-round.
TarponMay through July.
Speckled TroutYear-round.

Family-Friendly Fishing in Sarasota

Sarasota, Florida offers lots of family-friendly fishing opportunities that cater to anglers of all ages and skill levels. 

Family-Friendly Charters

Some charter operators specialize in family-friendly fishing experiences, ensuring a safe and enjoyable outing for all. These charters provide age-appropriate fishing gear, instruction, and a fun, patient approach to time on the water, making it ideal for families with young children. Ask any of our world-class Sarasota fishing charters about the best options for your family.

Fishing Piers

Sarasota is home to several fishing piers that provide easy access to fishing for the whole family. The nearby Venice Fishing Pier and the Rod & Reel Pier on Anna Maria Island are popular choices. These piers offer a safe and convenient environment for fishing, with amenities like bait shops, restrooms, and nearby picnic tables.

Backwater Kayak Fishing

Sarasota's expansive backwater areas include mangroves and shallow flats which offer a unique kayak fishing environment suitable for families. Renting kayaks or booking guided kayak fishing tours allows families to explore scenic waterways while targeting species like snook, redfish, and jack crevalle. It's an excellent opportunity to enjoy nature and learn about the local ecosystem.

Freshwater Fishing

Sarasota has several freshwater lakes and rivers where families can enjoy a day of fishing together. Nearby spots like Lake Manatee State Park and Myakka River State Park offer shots and largemouth bass, crappie, and catfish. These parks often provide amenities like fishing piers, boat rentals, and picnic areas for a complete family outing.

Fishing Regulations in Sarasota

When fishing in Florida, or anywhere, it is essential to adhere to the fishing regulations and licensing requirements set by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). Here are some key points to keep in mind:

Fishing License

A valid Florida fishing license is generally required for both residents and non-residents aged 16 years and older. Licenses can be obtained online through the FWC's website, by phone, or from authorized licensing agents. Different types of licenses are available, including saltwater, freshwater, and combination licenses, depending on your fishing plans.

Size and Bag Limits

It is crucial to adhere to size and bag limits for different fish species in Sarasota. These regulations specify the minimum and maximum sizes of fish that can be harvested, as well as the number of fish that can be kept per angler per day. The limits can vary by species, so it's essential to consult the FWC's regulations for the most up-to-date information on limits. Abiding by these rules helps ensure great fishing for years to come.

Protected Species

Some fish species in Sarasota, such as snook, tarpon, and goliath grouper, may have seasonal or specific regulations in place for their protection. These regulations may include catch-and-release only periods, restricted harvest seasons, or size limits. It's crucial to familiarize yourself with the specific regulations for these protected species to ensure their conservation.

Gear Restrictions

Certain gear restrictions may apply when fishing in Sarasota. For example, the use of certain types of hooks or spearfishing equipment may be regulated or prohibited in specific areas or for certain species. It's important to consult the FWC's regulations to ensure compliance with gear restrictions.

Planning Your Sarasota Fishing Trip

Capt. AJ Grande heading out to fish in Sarasota, Florida. Courtesy of Grande Charter Fishing.

When planning your fishing expedition in Sarasota, start your journey with AnyCreek. We’ll connect you with Sarasota’s best fishing guides so that you may have on-the-ground guidance throughout your planning process. You can chat with your guide anytime before your trip by using AnyCreek’s Chat Feature, located under your ‘Account Info’ tab on our website. Check the local forecast before you start packing to ensure you’re prepared. Your guide will have all necessary licenses, gear, and tackle, but don’t forget to pack essentials — snacks, sunscreen, hats, polarized sunglasses, sun shirts, a raincoat, and a camera.

Booking for a large group? No problem! Check out this article to get you and your crew on your way.

Sarasota Fishing FAQ

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